Henrik Kaessmann is professor of evolutionary genomics at Heidelberg University (Germany). He is leading the De Novo Gene Birth and the Evolution of the Human Brain project.
Born in Germany, Kaessmann received a PhD in biology at Leipzig University and completed postdoctoral work in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago (US). He joined the Center for Integrative Genomics at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) as an assistant professor of evolutionary genomics in 2003 before being promoted to associate professor in 2007 and then full professor in 2014. Kaessmann has received numerous prestigious awards and honors, including three ERC Grants, EMBO membership, the Cloëtta Prize and the Friedrich Miescher Award.
Kaessmann’s research focuses on the molecular basis of mammalian organ evolution. His lab has pioneered the large-scale assessment of gene expression change and its phenotypic implications across major “dimensions”: Different organs from various species, developmental stages, gene expression layers, coding/noncoding gene types, splicing isoforms and sexes. This work unveiled ancestral and species-specific gene expression programs, driving the development and adult functions of mammalian organs, as well as mutational mechanisms and forces of natural selection underlying the evolution of these programs.